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Leo Steen 2018 'Ascona Vineyard' Cabernet Franc, Santa Cruz Mountains, California

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Leo Hansen's personal journey has certainly shaped his sommelier’s palate, gentle approach to winemaking, and the restrained, food-friendly style of his wines. Born and raised in Denmark as the son of a chef and hotelier, food and wine have always been a passionate part of his life. Leo grew up in the service industry, and started working in his father’s kitchen at the age of 12.

Winemaker: Leo Hansen

Farming: Organic 

Variety: 100% Cabernet Franc

Terroir: Ascona Vineyard is located on a sloping plateau at an elevation of 2,400 feet in the Santa Cruz Mountains (home to such famed wineries as Ridge and Mt. Eden). Though Ascona gets abundant sunshine, its elevation keeps it cool. This, and the site’s well-draining decomposed sandstone and shale soils, provide ideal conditions for growing Cabernet Franc, allowing the grapes to ripen without getting overly sweet.

Vinification: Fermented in open-top tanks, using native yeast, and 20% whole cluster to underscore the varietal’s herbal, savory side. Pressed using a basket press.

Aging: 2 months in 40% concrete egg to preserve freshness, and 60% French oak barrels for structure and mouthfeel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur. 200 cases produced.

Tasting Notes: This wine takes its inspiration from the wonderful Cabernet Francs of the Loire region. This expressive wine displays a gorgeous nose of black Cherry and bitter dark chocolate, as well as layers of pepper and violet. On the palate, age worthy tannins underscore a savory mix of dark fruit, pine sap and Kirsch.

Though yields were low in the Ascona Vineyard, the 2018 growing season produced another exceptional vintage. Cooler temperatures lead to a long growing season, without any major heat spikes, which allowed grapes to ripen smoothly. To preserve the high natural acidity Leo prizes in his wines, he picked his 1.5 acres of Cabernet Franc on October 12th at 23.0 Brix.

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